Carer’s Leave.

New regulations will come into force on 6 April 2024 that will provide employees with the right to take up to one week of statutory unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period to care for, or arrange care for, dependants with long-term care needs.

A person is a "dependant" for these purposes if they:

  • Are a spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee.
  • Live in the same household as the employee, otherwise than by reason of being the employee's boarder, employee, lodger or tenant, or reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care.

A dependant has a "long-term care need" for these purposes if any of the following apply:

  • They have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months.
  • They have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
  • They require care for a reason connected with their old age.

To be eligible for carer’s leave, an employee will need to provide advance notice (which need not be in writing) of the longer of (i) three days or (ii) twice the number of days as the period of leave requested. An employer may waive the notice requirement where the other requirements of the regulations have been met, however

The amount of leave is determined by the employee’s normal working pattern. For those with fixed normal working hours, a week’s leave matches the period they are usually required to work. For an employee with a variable work pattern, the calculation is based on an average of the work periods over the preceding 12-month period. If the employee has been employed for less than 52 weeks, the calculation is based on the entire period of employment; or, if the employee has been employed for less than one week, a period equal in duration to the period the employee is expected to work in that week.

Eligible employees will be able to take the leave in increments of half days or full days – which need not be consecutive – or as a single, full week.

An employer cannot require an employee to supply evidence in relation to a request for carer’s leave before granting the leave.

An employer will be permitted to postpone an employee’s leave if it considers that the business would be unduly disrupted by the absence. However, to do so, it must notify the employee as soon as reasonably practicable and not later than the earlier of seven days after the employee’s notice was given to the employer, or before the earliest day or part day requested in the employee’s notice. The employer will also need to consult with the employee and reschedule the leave to commence no later than one month after the earliest day or part day of the employee’s request.

During carer’s leave, the employee will retain the benefit of their terms and conditions of employment, except for wages / salary. The employee will also be bound by any obligations arising under those terms and conditions.

After taking carer’s leave, the employee will be entitled to return to the job in which they were employed before the absence, with the same seniority, pension rights, and not less favourable terms and conditions; and employees will be protected from being subjected to detriment or dismissal on the grounds of taking, seeking to take, or because the employer believed that the employee was likely to take, carer’s leave.

Where an employee has a contractual right to carer’s leave in addition to the statutory right, they will not be permitted to exercise both separately. Instead, the employee may take advantage of whichever right is more favourable in any particular respect.

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